--- layout: post status: publish published: true title: The Ice Bucket challenge and the "waste of water" critique wordpress_id: 3176 wordpress_url: https://www.martineve.com/?p=3176 date: !binary |- MjAxNC0wOC0yNyAxOToyODo1MCArMDIwMA== date_gmt: !binary |- MjAxNC0wOC0yNyAxODoyODo1MCArMDIwMA== categories: - Politics tags: - Charity - ALS comments:  ---
WaterAid is a very good charity to which I would heartily suggest that people donate. I also agree that it would be good if more people gave regularly to charity. However, I don't think it holds up to criticise the Ice Bucket Challenge as a one-off either because it wastes water or because it's a stunt (as many memes doing the rounds have been). What I think it does do is potentially flaunt the localised surplus of water in the face of people who do not have ready access (which doesn't mean that if it wasn't used, people in poorly supplied areas would miraculously have it, merely that it could be extremely tasteless to do so). It also pays for everyone to consider the privileges that they enjoy as a result of the luck of where they were born and to decide to support charities and other initiatives that extend those advantages worldwide.
So, in other words: the problem with the Ice Bucket challenge is that it gratuitously shows the sickening inequality of access to water in the service of an unrelated challenge. This does not mean that it has not done good things for ALS charities. However, it would be good if this phenomenon could also be used to raise awareness of the problems of access to drinking water. In other words, this is more about the discourse of appropriation and privilege (and lack of awareness) than any kind of true environmental or humanitarian problem with people in areas of plentiful supply "wasting" water. This is not the same, though, as conserving water and thinking that by so doing, in areas of plentiful supply, the problem will be solved. That will take action. So, if you feel put out by the ice bucket challenge, the solution, to my mind, is not to ask people to stop doing it and "just give to charity" (they won't and there's no real environmental or humanitarian problem with them doing so). Rather, you need to encourage them to also give to charities and organisations that work to make water available worldwide.